Aw, man! But… but she’s so pretty!

Michelle Ryan from Bionic Woman from NBC.comTonight was a bad night for TV. Two shows on the DVR that I really tried hard to make myself like, but I just couldn’t do it.

“Bionic Woman” is just plain not good. It’ll trick you at first, because if you hear the overall concept (minus the belligerent hacker lil sister), and just catch glimpses of it, you might think it has potential. And if I didn’t mention it yet, the star is really, really pretty. But it just keeps on failing. I’ll watch one more episode just because it looks to be Bionic Starbuck-centric, but after that I’m dropping it.

I hope I’m not spoiling it for anybody, but the boring but generally likable fiance of the boring but generally likable star apparently died sometime over the last week — since he just had a clearly non-fatal bullet wound at the end of the pilot, I’m guessing he had a sudden aneurism or something. And it’s too bad, because somehow his dullness combined with hers to make a character who wasn’t exactly interesting, but was at least more appealing than everybody else back at Super Secret HQ. Miguel Ferrer, and a holy-cow-I-never-saw-that-coming Asian guy who’s a martial arts expert, and a harsh woman who drives a GTO, just can’t make up for Oscar Goldman.

And I hate to kick a jackass when he’s down, but if you’re trying to bring in fresh exciting new blood to invigorate your show, Isaiah Washington is a bad, bad choice. And then having him exchanging banter about What Color Is Your Parachute? is just embarrassing.

I hope I don’t end up sounding like Isaiah Washington when I say that watching “Pushing Daisies” just gave me the creeps all over. I watched it on the recommendation of a commenter here, and I really wanted to like it. But as I was afraid of, I had about the same reaction to it as I had to Wonderfalls. It was just way too fey and precious and pleased with itself. (And I’m the guy who loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer!)

Barry Sonnenfeld was Barry Sonnefelding the hell out of it, and it showed. Really high production values. Clever concept. Smarter-than-average dialogue. Clearly distinct from anything else on network TV. And a good bit of it hit just the right tone for a romantic black comedy.

But come on. Even Wes Anderson would call out the show for being too affected. And it’s all so brightly-colored but with a sinister undertone!, complete with the narrator from the Walgreens ads. And the characters banter with puns about rumination. And it’s just full-to-bursting with that insufferably confessional, blatant allegory, the same kind that drags down Tim Burton’s “I’m a tortured soul ’cause I’m different!” movies. Here you’ve got a woman who lives with her eccentric spinster aunts. And a taller, thinner Kevin Spacey-looking guy who was close to but tragically separated from his mother and emotionally distant from his father, who falls into a gloriously romantic but completely non-sexual relationship with his spunky dream girl.

By the end of it, I was overcome with the need to eat a steak and read Maxim.

12 thoughts on “Aw, man! But… but she’s so pretty!”

  1. I’m glad I’m not that only one that couldn’t figure out when whatsisname died in the pilot.

    Out of curiosity, have you watched Journeyman at all? I’m liking it a little more than Bionic Woman, although it’s still not 100% in my mind.

  2. Did the hacker sister die yet?

    I think they should re-title the show “The Extremely Hot Bionic Woman”…then people wont get so upset when the plot is lame and the characters are wooden.

  3. I’ve seen little bits of “Journeyman” since it’s on after “Heroes.” From the one full epsiode I’ve seen, I’d say it even qualifies as good but dull. People actually act and talk like real people, and they behave as they would if this kind of thing were happening to a real person. I never would’ve expected the update of “Quantum Leap” would be better than the update of “Bionic Woman.” Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching a lot of “Rome” lately. (And still, Michelle Ryan’s American accent is a lot better than Kevin McKidd’s).

    And it looks like the annoying hacker sister’s going to be alive for a long time. I got my hopes up when it looked like she was going off to live with their dad, but they somehow reached a reconciliation as sudden and inexplicable as fiance guy’s death.

  4. I wasn’t too thrilled with “Pushing Daisies,” but I’ll probably keep watching in hopes that once Sonnenfeld stops directing episodes (I think he was only allowed to direct the first two and that’s it because he was going way over budget) it will calm the hell down. I kept wanting to just get into the show, and accept it, but it just felt like it had a hand on my forehead, holding me back while saying, “No, wait! Don’t fall for it yet! Look what else we’ve got!”

  5. Yes, both were bad. Bionic Woman was worse, because it wasn’t trying anything new and that made it boring AND bad. But Pushing Up Daisies was bad as well. Bad bad bad. Am I the only one who thinks the Aaron Sorkin style dialog is just truly annoying. Look! We speak both fast and perfectly! Therefore the writing must be really clever!

  6. Yeah, “Pushing Daisies” suffered from way too much “look how clever we are!” Which is a shame, because there’s a good bit there that is genuinely clever.

  7. Haha, my Pushing Daisies recommendation didn’t go down too well. I could see how the Barry Sonnenfieldness of it, could get to you. I think it was more Men In Black, than MIB2, Wild Wild West & Big Trouble. I still think the pilot showed a lot of potential for an interesting story. Yes, I thought it was fun. Your points are valid but I’m willing to overlook its deficiencies for its creativity and I enjoyed watching something a little different. Much like you do when you keep watching Heroes. As for Journeyman, well I watched it because Quantum Leap is one of my all time favorites. It was decent, but nothing special. Did anyone watch the return of Friday Night Lights? Still had some great dramatic moments, but I feel it lost a bit of the spark that it had in season one. Chuck did you watch “Flight of the Conchords” and have you seen “The Mighty Boosh?” I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on those two shows.

  8. Ah, I see now I didn’t make it clear. I like Barry Sonnenfeld, a whole lot. (Everybody involved in Raising Arizona gets an immediate free pass from me. (Nicholas Cage already used his up a while ago).) So I wasn’t criticizing his contribution to what I saw of the show (the pilot), but saying that he did what he could, but it was dragged down by everything else.

    Seeing as how what bugged me about “Pushing Daisies” is the same thing that bugged me about “Wonderfalls” (I could only make it through one episode) and “Dead Like Me” (I’ve seen several episodes but couldn’t quite get into it), I guess I’m complaining about Bryan Fuller. “Pushing Daisies” was just dripping with that “look how clever I am! LOOK, DAMMIT!” attitude. I think there’s a decent show in there, if they’d just calm the hell down and stop trying to impress everyone.

    I’ve only seen a couple episodes of “Flight of the Conchords,” and it’s excellent; I’m going to rent and/or buy the DVD as soon as it comes out. “Friday Night Lights” doesn’t interest me at all; people keep going on about how great it was, but I just don’t have any desire to watch it. And I’ve even never heard of “The Mighty Boosh.”

  9. You have to track down The Mighty Boosh its a surreal UK comedy. (youtube has some episodes online, nanageddon is a favorite) Richmond from the IT Crowd is one of the main stars. I had no interest to watch a show about American Football at all, but when I watched Friday Night Lights it was really about these characters in a small town. Good dramatic writing, it just feels real. Pushing Daisies does have the look at me I’m being clever attitude right through it. I can’t deny that.

  10. Bionic Woman suffers from the “we are much cooler than any other show on TV”. The problem with Bionic Woman is — apart from her dealing with her sister — you don’t buy any of the show. (Keep in mind I’m a guy that can buy Batman and Superman.) The whole town gas wipeout thing seemed absurd. It just needs to be a kick-ass show. Stop trying so hard. Give me BIGFOOT or Steve Austin. Where is Lee Majors when you need him?

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